Talking About Family and Domestic Violence With Your Kids

talking about family and domestic violence


I’m going to say right from the outset, family violence is never okay. We all know this. But it can be difficult calling family violence out. A definition I came across when I was researching for this article is:

“Family violence is any threatening, coercive, dominating or abusive behaviour that occurs between people in a family, domestic or intimate relationship, or former intimate relationship, that causes the person experiencing the behaviour to feel fear.”

My further reading reminded me that family violence is not an argument once in a while, it is a continuous pattern of abusive behaviour perpetrated by one person towards another, often using multiple tactics. Family violence is not just physical or sexual abuse. It can include many types of abuse, all of which are unhealthy and harmful. It’s important for you to be aware of the different types of family violence so that if you are experiencing these behaviours, you can call them out and get the support you need.

If you feel you are experiencing or have experienced any of these situations, make contact with a counsellor or psychologist, or call 1800 RESPECT. Your family lawyer can also help point you in the right direction. Of course, if you ever feel in imminent danger, call the police immediately.

How to Help Your Kids Manage

Kids can have their own unique experiences of family violence. They can directly experience physical, sexual, psychological and financial abuse. They can experience threatening and coercive behaviour. And importantly, your children witnessing or being exposed to family violence directed at you is also family violence.

Family violence between parents is traumatic for kids. They often know it’s going on, and even if they don’t see it or hear it or experience it directly, they’re still affected by it. Just knowing that your partner or ex-partner is hurting you is distressing and traumatic for your kids.

If you find yourself in an untenable situation, you should seek help with safety planning and to explore your options. For your kids, the Kids Helpline is a wonderful resource. Their contact number is 1800 55 1800 and they provide free, confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling for people aged 5 to 25 years.

Talking About the Situation

Family violence is a difficult topic to talk about with your kids. But chances are that if they are experiencing family violence (and remember, that can be if they are witnessing you being abused), they will want to – and should – talk about it with someone.

Do your kids a favour and make sure they have access to a counsellor or a psychologist. At the very least, ensure your kids have a close and trusted extended family member, mentor or friend they can talk to.

Here are some general statements you can use when talking to your kids about family violence:

  • Family violence is not your fault, even if your parents are fighting about you or you didn’t clean your room or did something wrong.
  • Family violence is not okay – grown ups have lots of ways to solve their problems. Violence or abuse should never be one of them.
  • You have a right to be safe: don’t get in the middle of a fight. The best thing to do is call someone to help.
  • Your feelings are normal. It’s okay to love an abusive parent but not their behaviour. It’s normal to feel a mix of different things at the same time

How O’Loan Family Law Can Help

If you are experiencing family and domestic violence and are thinking about separating or have already separated, please get in touch at 02 9922 2230 or via email by completing the form on this page to discuss your matter in complete confidence. Alternatively, If you’d like to book an appointment straight away, head to this link.

We can advise and guide you to find the right resolution pathway for you and your family. O’Loan Family Law offers specialist family law advice, conveniently located in North Sydney on Sydney’s North Shore.  We help separating families find amicable solutions that consider your unique situation so you can move on with your life. Our value pricing service offerings include collaborative practice, assisted DIY separation and what we like to call, the traditional family law pathway. We’ve got your back.

About the Author

Bron O'Loan

Bron O’Loan is the Founder & Director of O’Loan Family Law and is an expert family lawyer and independent children’s lawyer. Bron has worked in Family Law since 2015 and is an experienced litigator and skilful negotiator in all family law matters. She is also an experienced speaker and best selling author of The Splits – How to help your kids navigate separation and divorce.

Connect with Bron on LinkedIn: Bron O’Loan | LinkedIn

This post is an overview only and should not be considered as legal advice.  If there are any matters that you would like us to advise you on, then please contact us.